Oil and Gas Activities within the National Wildlife Refuge System. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. R. Eliot Crafton, Laura B. Comay, Marc Humphries. May 9, 2018
Oil- and gas-related wells are documented in 110 (approximately 18%) of the 605 units of the National Wildlife Refuge System (NWRS). The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), in the Department of the Interior (DOI), administers the NWRS, which includes primarily national wildlife refuges, along with wetland management districts and waterfowl production areas. The wells in the NWRS most commonly involve nonfederal oil and gas resources but sometimes encompass federal resources. Oil and gas development in the NWRS has the potential to adversely impact wildlife and/or the environment, and some see it as contrary to the mission and purposes for which the NWRS was established. Others think that some levels of oil and gas activity may take place in refuges without harming the system’s central mission of wildlife conservation and that such activity could benefit the U.S. economy and provide greater energy security. FWS, which administers nonfederal mineral activities on refuge lands, and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which administers federal mineral activities on refuge lands, have developed regulations that seek to minimize the adverse impacts of oil and gas development in the NWRS, among other purposes.
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